MURRAY — A new democratic caucus within the state party is out to debunk the message by rival Republicans that if you are good member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Democratic Party is not for you.
"I think the church officially has tried very, very hard to be bipartisan," said state party chairman Jim Dabakis. "But they (Republicans) have been very good at messaging — that if you want to be a good LDS member, you have to be a Republican. We will be working real hard to help LDS people who have the inclination to be Democrats to join us."
The launch of the caucus kicked off Saturday morning with a pancake breakfast at the Murray Park, featuring an appearance by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and a host of other politicians. About 200 people turned out for the event, which Dabakis termed "breathtakingly successful."
It is his goal to populate various counties throughout the state with caucus chapters to be more inclusionary.
"As the Republican Party becomes more closed and alienating and off to the right, the Utah Democratic Party is really a great home for LDS people," Dabakis said.
Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake, said the turnout was better than he expected and underscores the message that being a member of the LDS Church and being Democrat are not mutually exclusive.
"I get asked 'How can you be a good Mormon and a Democrat?' I tell people I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon. My religious values line up very well with the Democratic Party."
Dabakis said he intends for the party to be more proactive in reaching out members of the LDS faith.
"We need that LDS spirit. We need that LDS energy and we need that spirit of doing things. We desperately need it. This is the beginning of creating that kind of serious change."
Saturday also marked the debut of the group's website, ldsdems.org, where people can sign up to join the caucus.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company